Disclaimer: I do not own The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins does. I'm just obsessed with them.
Chapter one - Annie
I sat in my room, quietly waiting for my mother to finish fixing my long, dark hair. She always made such a lovely creation out of the tangled mess. She blamed me for being out in the water for too long, not that I could help it. I could sprout fins and I would see it as a blessing. My older brother watched on from a room nearby. His last reaping had been a year ago, and he had never been chosen. We celebrated his 19th birthday with extra frivolity , knowing that he was never in danger of being chosen in the Hunger Games again. Everyone was happy, except for him. Now he couldn't push away the thought of being unable to protect me if I were ever chosen.
"Can't you finish up later?" Avan asked our mother impatiently, "There's still a few hours until the reaping.."
She shot him an unhappy glare, "Be patient, Avan." Her thin fingers finished twirling the very last curl on my head, "Don't let her ruin her hair. I wont have time to fix it later."
Annie put on a pair of dark brown knickers and a pair of meshy shoes before her brother grabbed her hand and they dashed out of the house. The Cresta's didn't live in the worst part of District 4; her father was in charge of the shipping yard and made good money, at least enough for them to live comfortably. There were seaside mansions, very few, but very much landmarked the wealthier half of 4. The rest, Annie's family included, lived in open, airy cabins - some larger than others but designed to perfectly suit the breezy winds that blew through their town.
"They wont pick you, you know." Avan commented as they walked down a rocky street that would eventually lead them to the ocean, "You're too much of a girl."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I said gruffly, wondering if it was just his own way to rid his fears.
He grabbed a strand of my hair, dark brown indoors but illuminated with streaks of auburn and gold in the sunlight. "Look at you, they'd feel sorry throwing you in there."
I laughed, "At least I can keep myself alive. When was the last time you caught a fish.."
I stopped him, "Without a fishing pole?"
I was satisfied with his silence. After he had begun working at the yard with our father, he had relied too heavily on machinery. He had seemed to forgotten what had plagued their district four years ago, but I never would. They weren't getting the boats and poles they needed to continue a steady stock of fish, we all feared starvation. That was the year when my dad taught me how to swim far distances for hours at a time. I dove underwater and learned to catch fish of all sizes with my bare hands and I was good at it, once I got over the fear of having to handle the bigger fish, that is.
"Annie!" my father's boisterous voice came from behind a boat on the pier, "Would you fix up that net for me?"
I jumped straight into work as he pulled Avan aside. They were so far it was almost impossible to listen, but I didn't have to eavesdrop to know the topics looming over their easily disguised conversation. The reaping was in a few hours, and being 15, I was still very much eligible to be selected. But my chances were slim - there were hundreds, thousands even, living in 4. My safety was almost guaranteed. I was just about done with my knot when Avan headed back towards me.
"Hungry? Dad's got a fresh new batch of seaweed."
"Ice cream?" I smiled, taking the bronzed hand he offered. His hazel brown eyes narrowed playfully.
"Why do we always have to do what you want?"
"Because." I said, crossing my arms over my chest as if there really was no other response to his question.
Within a few moments, we got to work on taking the seaweed, crushing it into a large metal bowl. He added what seemed to be the right amount of sugar, cream, and milk, having memorized the portions from years of practice and churned everything together. I ran to get a pair of spoons, not the nice ones we offered customers, but the older, rustier ones we kept stowed away for ourselves. I took the first bite, enjoying the simple pleasure of my favorite treat. We spent the last two hours talking to a few friends from school who had passed by for their own bite of ice cream before Avan brought me back home to finish getting ready. She dressed me in a turquoise dress she had saved for just the occasion. It was strapless and reached my knees, flowing as if it were just an extension of our never-ending oceans. Avan walked me to the area designated for kids my age, making sure that my hair was still loosely curled, my cheeks still pink, but more importantly that my sea-green eyes were still shining as brightly as they were this morning. It was his way of reading me, because my face worked to my advantage in hiding emotions.
A man with brassy colored hair took the stage, our past victors following suit. The first, Mags, and older lady that had won the games long before I was born - possibly even before my parents. The second caused quite a stir, not for winning the games, but for his sun-kissed skin, dazzling smile, and messy blonde hair. Finnick Odair was the youngest to have ever won the games five years ago, at the mere age of 14. He was a well-known figure just for that, that is, if he didn't have his looks to grant him even larger favor. The rest of the victors piled in, there were thirteen still alive - a small amount compared to those left in the larger districts like 1 and 2.
The ceremony began with a brief introduction of what the Hunger games is, as if we all weren't already aware of the torturous event. It was a barbaric display of children fighting to the death, all for the sake of entertaining the Capitol. The man brushed his brassy locks aside, beginning to introduce the previous victors and allowing the audience a brief applaud.
He announced that this year, the mentors were Finnick and Mags, both of which were rumored to easily reel in sponsors. It was the best choice for having another victor from district 4.
"We'll begin with the ladies." he said in a low, hoarse voice. His hand reached into the crystal clear ball, digging around for the paper that would determine a poor girl's fate. It took a push from my friend behind me to bring me back to reality.
"Annie." she said worriedly, her eyes filling with tears, "Annie, that's you. He called your name."
My mouth fell ajar, and I had to really listen to her to digest the information, "It couldn't be."But was quickly reassured with the sound of my name ringing my ears.
"Annie Cresta." the man said again, growing impatient, and with another step I was moving forward. The shock of it all still settling when he took a hold of my shoulder and placed me beside him. "She's too thrilled for words!" he squealed, "Any volunteers?"
My throat felt dry. I wanted to cry, but my tears had seemed to have evaporated. I frantically searched the crowd as Costas, the announcer, went in to pull out a boys name.
I recognized that name from school. He was a friend, two years older than me, and one of us had to die. That was what it took to ignite my tears, but I swallowed them, leaving my lips in a straight line. Resolved and strong, or at least trying to be. The moment he reached the stage his hand reached for mine and I squeezed it. I don't remember anything after I was led away from the stage and into the justice building - just a flood of tears. They sat me in a chair, in an empty white room. The next stage of being a tribute was saying good-bye to your family and friends. I wasn't ready to say good-bye. I was only fifteen.
Avan came in first, steady and strong. He would have a much better chance at winning than I do. He opened his arms and I rushed into them, trying to compose myself long enough to get through our meeting.
"What I said earlier, Annie, it wasn't real. You've got a good chance at winning. You're thin, fast -"
I interrupted him, "You've seen the careers from past years," I said slowly, trying to make him understand without actually having to say it myself.
"Yeah I've seen them, but they're missing something you've got." He said, holding my shoulders tightly, "Brains. Use it. It's your strongest weapon."
I didn't say anything, I was waiting for more advice, anything that can help me live through this. "You're going to make it." he said to me. "Stay near the water - eat fish. Just promise me you'll make it back."
"What if there isn't any water? I don't know how to find anything else to eat."
I stared into his light brown eyes for an answer, an answer he couldn't give me. Instead, he hugged me again and said that he loved me.
The next person to come in was my best friend Fillippa, there wasn't much she could offer, except for a few laughs. The moment my parents came in, I broke down. I was hardly able to grasp anything they were saying in between my mother's pleads for me to come back and my dad's reminder to be resourceful and strong. I was able to compose myself just before they left, long enough to tell them how much they meant to be, and that I would try my best. I knew my best wasn't nearly good enough.
I was left alone in the white room for a few minutes, imagining my rapid heart beat enough noise to fill the entire room, when one of the victors came in to guide me to a train. She wrapped her hand around my shoulders, whispering comforting words and hopeful encouragements. I never asked for her name, and I didn't remember it from the games but I remembered how she won. She was tall, thin, and quick - just like me - and seeing her standing with me gave me a trace of hope that I might have a chance.
Before we were able to enter the privacy of the train, we were willed to stand in the doorway for cameras and pictures. I put on my best smile, but I didn't need a mirror to know my eyes were still red and swollen from earlier. Once the door was closed, I sighed in relief. Or so I thought it was relief, until I began to feel a churning feeling in my stomach.
Costas placed both his hands on each of our backs and led us down a tight corridor. His hand held me up when I almost lost my footing when the train began moving. We were dropped off in front of two doors, facing each other, to find our rooms inside. The victor's rooms were huge, with paneled walls and dark wooden furniture. My bedspread was a turqoise blue, probably to prompt memories of water and the ocean. Costas had asked us to pick something nice out for dinner in an hour. I hurried into the shower, having only used one once in my life, and felt the drops trickle down my skin pleasantly. I left my dress on the bed and found a pair of linen pants and a green shirt. Costas knocks on the door to collect me, and I take a few minutes before I exit and walk down the shaky corridor to the dining compartment.
A/N: Ok, so this story is going to be told between Annie and Finnick's different POV's. I intend to limit each chapter to one POV, in order to avoid confusion, so I'll try to keep that up. Thanks for reading! I'd love some reviews (: